How do you keep your Voice Healthy?

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When you have a sore throat, phlegm up to your ears, or are vocally tired, what do you do to make your voice sound (and perform) as usual?

When it comes to treating physical ailments that affect your voice, what are your favorite remedies?

Susan Eichhorn, a widely respected Canadian singing teacher and musical theatre coach now based in midtown Manhattan in New York City, suggested to me in the past that if one were suffering from congestion, boiling some sliced ginger root with lemon rinds in water for a few hours on the stove, straining the liquid, and then consuming at a fairly warm temperature does wonders (I’ve tried it and it works).

Susan, during her time at the University of Western Ontario, also used to recommend raspberry flavored zinc lozenges to help combat a sore throat. Again, a tried and true method that also had a delightful taste. Genius!
For minor irritations, I suggest a warm cup of lemon herbal tea (don’t add sugar), some vocal rest and a good nights sleep. These remedies may do the trick, especially where fatigue is concerned. Of course, one of the best roads to take when maintaining the health of your instrument is prevention, but we’ll touch on that in another post 🙂 Do you have any tried and true remedies to share? Leave a comment!


P.S. What do you think of Echinacea? Is it over-rated?

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  • Dave Mann
    July 7, 2006, 2:45 pm

    Lots of water, no cigarette smoking and keeping conversations to a minimum when not working.

  • Russ Holen
    July 7, 2006, 9:50 pm

    In my 27 years of radio, I found one thing for sure—if I had a meal before I broadcast a football or basketball game, NOT to consume any dairy products– it coats the throat! I also like VERY MUCH the resonance my voice has the morning after broadcasting a ball game.

  • W. Edwards
    July 8, 2006, 7:42 am

    There used to be a very tiny throat lounge for speakers imported from England called “Meloids.” Fabulous! Anyone see them around?
    Licorice is legendary for quick recuperation. It also makes you retain fluid.
    Anyone try this?

  • Pamela Johnston
    July 8, 2006, 1:26 pm

    I use this daily to keep my nose and throat clear of congestion. I use non-iodine salt water in a container with a micromist nasal sprayer, inhaling 8 “sniffs” per nostril. Then I lean over and allow the solution to roll about the sinuses. When upright again everything rolls down the back of your throat. I know it sounds horrible, but it really works and I never, ever get a sinus condition any more. Be sure to use enough salt in the water to be a little uncomfortable the first time you use it. You’ll get used to it, and the benefit is worth the trouble. I don’t know about others, but if I use lozenges such as Ricola too much when my throat is tired I start to get a ‘wet mouth’ sound, so I use them as little as I can when recording.

  • Jim Sanders Beasley
    July 8, 2006, 5:29 pm

    As a singer and voice actor I can verify that the theater myth about potato chips in the dressing room works (at least for me). You get some carbs for energy and alertness, salt to cut the whatever in your vocal aparatus and the oil or grease lubes things. We are talking about just a handful here, taken like medicine not an eating disorder, of course. If you are about to record you will need to do a bit of water just before you speak. It sounds wrong, but is works. Other than chips, I never eat close to performance because of food allergies or something that causes drain.

  • Bob
    July 12, 2006, 8:22 am

    I sometimes have a problem with congestion associated with allergies. During the allergy season (which seems to keep expanding from year to year for me!) I will sometimes take a product with guaifenesin in it, such as Mucinex. It’s designed to break up the phlegm and it also dries me out some. This might be an extreme case, but it works for those times when you can’t wait for it to clear up on it’s own.

  • Brian Anthony
    July 12, 2006, 3:03 pm

    Dump Dairy. Dump beef. Every form of the animal is poison to the voice. Most cows have so many modifications in their biological makeup that it’s no wonder our bodies can’t take it. I know, I love cheese too. Try it from goats, buffalo (Mozzarella) or any other animal but cows. Also, at least 4 hours before a recording, avoid any food that has tiny little bits in it like seeds, shredded coconut, nuts, oats, bran, etc. Roughage is great for cleaning the system when we are not recording, but it will cause choking when we are trying record. Avoid salt, sugar and caffeine… all produce a time-bomb effect and can make a nightmare out of your voice acting. From experience… Love Brian

  • Jim Thomas
    July 14, 2006, 7:18 pm

    I do something similar to what Pamela does: leaning over a sink, I inhale warm (not hot) salt water into my nose but then spit it out into the sink.
    Also, I am a firm believer in the Chinese herb, Yin Chiao. Whole Foods suggests Dr. Shen’s version as it has the least heavy metals as other brands. Follow the directions on the bottle and impending colds vanish.

  • Diane Herman
    March 14, 2007, 11:34 am

    Has anyone had any experience using Salagen when the concert room you are to sing in is very dry?

  • Johnnie DeSantis
    April 7, 2007, 2:50 pm

    Does anyone know if drawn butter with crabs eaten five to six hours before a performance will effect my voice?

  • Jenoah
    October 25, 2008, 9:10 pm

    Someone told me about hot cheetos or hot chips with lemon juice. Suppose to eat the chips first to pull all the phlegm down and the lemon juice to smooth it out. Try srceaming too after for 5 minutes ( in a normal high key voice) and then rest your voice for two nights… I felt a lil difference in my singing

  • George Younker
    March 11, 2009, 9:22 pm

    Meloids.—Throat lozenges— I have just received several new packages of Meloids that I purchased from located in Thailand. It took 16 days for them to arrive in the mail. It is the only place I found I could buy them. Good Luck

  • RGranger
    March 23, 2009, 3:57 pm

    Regarding those who inhale salt water. There is a product on the market called Simply Saline that comes in a pressurized can and a long thin nozzle that will fit well up into your nose. I swear by the stuff. Cleans out your sinuses and helps fight off colds. WalMart or CVS etc. carries it. Also comes in a menthol … don’t care for that one but you might want to try it.

  • Robert Rhodes
    June 22, 2010, 9:42 am

    Recently viewed a television documentary on Paverotti who always carried a tin of Meloids.
    His representrative stated that they were now banned as they contained too much menthol.
    It wasn’t clear if he was banned from using them or if they were banned from production.
    Any news on whether they are still available in U.K.

  • Jordan Tibo
    December 4, 2010, 10:31 pm

    I just wanted to make a point about cough drops. Ricola is definitely the way to go! These are the only cough drops I use, especially before a performance. The reason is that Ricola’s do NOT contain any menthol, which according to many people, including my highly respected College Choir Teacher, is vital. Menthol tends to actually dry your vocal chords out, which is a vary bad thing, so stay away from cough drops that contain menthol, such as Halls.

  • Rebecca Rulo
    February 4, 2012, 5:08 pm

    To keep your voice/mouth from sounding wet, eat an apple. Picked this up from broadcasting school.

  • C. Thomas
    February 27, 2012, 1:22 pm

    I am a singing and this is what has worked for me
    An teaspoon or more of olive oil in some ice cold water.
    Whenever needed.
    I know, I know ice cold water? Is she crazy?
    Here’s why……
    You put ice on swollen muscles…Right?
    Your vocal cords are muscles
    So that’s how I treat it.
    When performing I always have ice cold water in the wings.
    It works for me give it a try it can hurt.

  • Darlene
    January 7, 2019, 4:01 pm

    Re: Meloids – I relied on these when doing public speaking and dealing with a cold/urge to cough, etc. When I could no longer find them in the local drug store, I switched to Potters – same size, same taste, same benefit. (Not as convenient a dispenser, though).